The Importance of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde

earnestBunburying—a term that indicates a double life as an excuse for absence. (Source: Wikipedia)

Have you ever felt the need to escape some certain situations and create a fictitious character as your excuse? John (or “Jack”) Worthing, a landowner in Hertfordshire of twenty nine years of age, presents himself as Ernest Worthing in front of his love interest, Gwendolen Fairfax, her mother Lady Bracknell, and also to Gwendolen’s cousin who’s also Jack’s best friend, Algernon Moncrieff. On other occasions, in front of his ward Cecily Cardew and Miss Prism her guardian; Jack uses the character Ernest as his rebellious and irresponsible younger brother who always gets into trouble and requires Jack’s assistance all the time. Ernest was merely Jack’s tool to run away for a while from his responsibilities. Through one trivial accident, Jack was pushed to confess to Algernon that Ernest is just a product of his imagination. At the same time, Algy confesses to Jack that he also invented a character named Bunbury, who is said to be his invalid friend who has extraordinarily bad health. Algy called this activity of double life as “Bunburying” and that he and Jack were “Bunburyists”.

Jack’s problem continues when Gwendolen and Lady Bracknell came to visit Algy’s flat. Algy has agreed to give time to Jack to speak to Gwendolen by distracting Lady Bracknell’s attention. Jack then used the time to propose to Gwendolen, but then he got taken aback by Gwendolen’s speech that “her ideal has always been to love someone of the name of Ernest.” The proposal was interrupted by Lady Bracknell, who then enquired Jack for the matters of his property and family background.

On the next act, Algernon decided to steal the identity of Ernest and came to the Manor House in Hertforshire and met Jack’s young and beautiful ward, Cecily. At the same time as Algy’s “debut” as Ernest, Jack decided to “kill” his fictitious brother and showed up at the Manor House dressed in mourning clothes. You can imagine the confusion that would soon take place. Cecily and Gwendolen got entangled in confusion too when they met and realized that they both have fallen in love with a man with the name of Ernest. Of course they fell in love with two different men; Gwendolen fell in love with Jack and Cecily with Algernon. The play concludes with the revealing of Jack’s true identity, surprisingly by Lady Bracknell.

Two words that can perfectly describe this play: Funny and Absurd.

What’s funny? The interaction between Jack and Algy, especially when they fought over muffins. Algy’s craving for cucumber sandwiches.

What’s absurd? Gwendolen’s (and also Cecily’s) personal obsession about the name Ernest, Lady Bracknell’s points of view and her interview (or rather interrogation) to Jack regarding his proposal to Gwendolen, Cecily with her imaginative mind and her diary, and also Gwendolen and Cecily’s suspiciously fast growing friendship. One last thing that is absurd is how Jack and Algernon take the act of christening so casually. Interesting how the absurdities in this play are at the same time funny.

I really enjoyed reading this play, because it’s witty and easy to read (unlike Shakespeare plays which need double reading the modern version on NFS). In fact, I only have to look for some unfamiliar words on the dictionary, and voila! I finished reading it in about 3 hours. This play mocks duplicity and hypocrisy as well as Victorian traditions, social customs, and marriage. To modern readers, we may as well admit that we also practice “Bunburying” in some ways—we need not create fictional characters, but we simply tell lies or excuses to keep away from our duties. So it is now our decision whether to continue living as a “Bunburyist” or we can realize the vital importance of being earnest. ;)

5th review for Let’s Read Plays event / 25th review for The Classics Club Project / 6th review for Books in English Reading Challenge 2013

Book details:

The Importance of Being Earnest (as part of The Plays of Oscar Wilde, page 361-418), by Oscar Wilde
58 pages, published April 2000 by Wordsworth Classics/Wordsworth Editions Ltd (first published August 1894)
My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


This review is also counted for Books Into Movies Monthly Meme hosted by HobbyBuku’s Classic.

Books Into Movies Monthly Meme Button 1

Movie Review:

After reading the play I watched the movie adaptation of it, which was released in 2002 and directed by Oliver Parker with Colin Firth as Jack Worthing, Rupert Everett as Algernon Moncrieff, Frances O’Connor as Gwendolen, Reese Witherspoon as Cecily and Judi Dench as Lady Bracknell. Despite of some alterations on the set and timeline, it was quite faithful to the original play. I particularly liked how Judi Dench carried the role of Lady Bracknell perfectly. Well, she has always been amazing. Here are some differences between the play and the adaptation: (1)  Jack Worthing is thirty five in the adaptation, he should be only twenty nine. (2) In the adaptation, Jack is Algy’s younger brother while in the original play he is actually Algy’s older brother. (3) One interesting thing that Gwendolen tattooed the name Ernest on her body.  (4) And the ending is slightly different. Just slighty– if you have watched the movie, then you will get what I mean… Overall, both the play and the adaptation are essentially enjoyable and entertaining. See the trailer below.

The Importance of Being Earnest (2002) on IMDb

Oidipus Sang Raja – Sophokles

Oidipus Sang Raja (Sophocles), terbitan Pustaka Jaya 2009

Takdir memang kejam. Ups, kalimat pembuka yang lagu balada banget ya. :p Namun ya, di dalam naskah drama/play tragis yang ditulis oleh penyair Yunani Sophokles sekitar tahun 429 SM ini ; Oedipus Rex atau judul Indonesianya Oidipus Sang Raja, dikisahkan upaya manusia yang sia-sia untuk melawan suratan takdir. Oidipus, Raja Negeri Thebes, menyaksikan bahwa negeri yang dipimpinnya dilanda prahara, dan rakyatnya datang memohon pertolongan dari sang raja. Kemudian datanglah Creon, saudara ipar Oidipus, yang mengabarkan bahwa sebab musabab segala penderitaan di Thebes adalah pembunuhan Raja Laius yang terjadi sudah lama sekali, sebelum Oidipus memerintah. Dewa Apollo menuntut agar “noda yang tumbuh di bumi Thebes” itu segera ditebas sebelum tumbuh akarnya. Hutang darah harus dibayar dengan darah, atau hukuman buang bagi si pembunuh. Laius adalah raja Thebes sebelum Oidipus, suami dari Jocasta yang sekarang menjadi istri Oidipus. Oidipus dengan berapi-api berusaha menemukan si pembunuh, sebelum si peramal Teirisias menyatakan bahwa Oidipus-lah sang pembunuh. Merasa kaget dan terhina, Oidipus pun menyangkal. Tak disangka, Jocasta kemudian menceritakan sebuah ramalan dari seorang pendeta wanita yang menyatakan bahwa Laius akan dibunuh oleh putranya sendiri. Karena ramalan itu, saat masih sangat kecil putra Laius dan Jocasta dibuang untuk dibunuh. Ada ramalan lain yang pernah didengar Oidipus sendiri, bahwa ia akan kawin dengan ibunya sendiri dan membunuh ayahnya. Semua kesaksian yang ada menunjukkan bahwa memang benarlah bahwa Oidipus, raja Thebes yang perkasa dan bijaksana, adalah si durjana yang harus membayar untuk perbuatannya di masa lalu.

Dari segi cerita, Oidipus Sang Raja memang menarik dan sarat konflik, sekalipun sangat singkat dan ringkas. Akan tetapi, tema incest-nya memang membuat agak… errrghhh…. Dan herannya Jocasta sepertinya tidak keberatan, bahkan mungkin mengetahui rahasia Oidipus dan membiarkan segala sesuatu terjadi. Simak kutipan di bawah ini…

JOCASTA

Takut? Mengapa lelaki mesti ketakutan?
Hidup adalah jalinan nasib peruntungan.
Sia-sia ditebak oleh tujuman.
Tempuhlah hidup seperti menempuh perjudian.
Takut mengawini bunda kesayangan?
Tak ada alasan!
Sebelum Paduka telah banyak orang melakukan,
Mengawin bundanya dalam impian.
Kenapa sekarang ditakutkan?
Hal-hal aneh tak usah diindahkan.
Agar hidup penuh kepuasan!

Errgghhh banget kan? Sekarang saya paham dari mana istilah Oedipus complex berasal. Membaca buku ini, rasanya tidak tega melihat Oidipus, yang digambarkan sebagai raja yang baik dan bijaksana, harus hancur hidupnya karena menanggung kenyataan pahit. Yang paling saya suka dari play ini adalah bentuknya yang berima seperti puisi, dan diterjemahkan dengan benar-benar indah oleh tidak lain dan tidak bukan, penyair ternama Indonesia, Rendra. Sungguh beruntung saya menemukan buku ini di tumpukan obralan toko buku beberapa waktu lalu, dan bisa membawanya pulang dengan harga sepuluh ribu rupiah saja.

Bukti kecemerlangan Rendra dalam menerjemahkan play ini:

OIDIPUS
Anda mengerti
Tapi tak mau memberi.
Apakah niat telah terpateri,
Untuk mengkhianati negeri
Dan seluruh rakyat kami?

TEIRISIAS
Kuselamatkan Paduka
Dan diri saya,
Kenapa bertanya pula?
Tanpa guna!
Saya menolak bicara!

OIDIPUS
Menolak bicara!
Orang tua tak tahu basa!
Mendengar kata Anda
Batu pun bisa marah jadinya.
Menolak bicara!
Atau bisukah anda, dan keras kepala
Sampai akhir dunia?

TEIRISIAS
Paduka maki watak-watakku!
Paduka caci keras kepalaku!
Tapi, lihatlah!
Kuman di seberang lautan tampak,
Gajah di pelupuk mata tak tampak!

4th review for Let’s Read Plays event / 5th review for New Authors Reading Challenge 2013

Detail buku:

Oidipus Sang Raja (Oedipus Rex), oleh Sophokles
Diterjemahkan ke bahasa Indonesia oleh Rendra
148 halaman, diterbitkan tahun 2009 oleh Pustaka Jaya
My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Our Town – Thornton Wilder

ourtown

Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? – every, every minute?

*

The play I chose for LRP event this month presents the events of everyday life in a way that underscores their value and their importance. We tend to hurry up with our lives: get this and that done, and suddenly day after day passes with little meaning or none at all. Hardly ever we take time to enjoy life as it is; to cherish every moment no matter how small that moment is, moments with those we love. Therefore the playwright Thornton Wilder wrote Our Town to remind us to be aware with the smallest events of our lives. He knew that those events, little and often ignored they are, sometimes have a meaning that surpass the “big” events. He knew that those are the things we would miss having.

The story of Our Town narrates the story of two families living in a small town, Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire. There is Dr. Frank Gibbs, the town doctor, with his wife Julia and two children: George and Rebecca. Then there is the newspaper editor Mr. Charles Webb, with his wife Myrtle and two children: Wally and Emily. We will learn a lot about Grover’s Corners and how everyday life in the year 1901 was lead there in the first act. George and Emily were both sixteen in the first act. Emily, who was the brightest girl in her class, was helping George to do his math homework while Julia Gibbs talked to her husband about getting a vacation abroad. She was about to receive a considerable amount of money and she said, It seems to me that once in your life before you die you ought to see a country where they don’t talk in English and don’t even want to.” Sadly, she never got the vacation she wanted.

Here we move on to the second act. The time was July 7, 1904. The day was George and Emily’s wedding day. Yes, they got closer to each other; we saw a hint of it on the first act. We will see a little bit of flashback on the second act; when George was about to leave for college, Emily showed her worries about him and after a heart-to-heart conversation they confessed that they were in love with each other. Some wedding jitters, some nervousness, some reminiscence of Frank and Julia’s wedding day years before, and then George and Emily were married.

The third and last act is the critical part of the play. The time was 1913 and the scene was the burial of Emily, who died of childbirth. When the living was mourning, the dead took seats on a part of the stage: Julia Gibbs has been dead for some years now, along with a supporting character, Mr. Stimson who was a choir director of the town’s church and a drunk. The dead conversed about how little the living notice each other and the happiness they feel in the company of loved ones. Their eyes were open while the eyes of the living were shut. Living people are blind.

“That’s what it was to be alive. To move about in a cloud of ignorance; to go up and down trampling on the feelings of those . . . of those about you. To spend and waste time as though you had a million years. To be always at the mercy of one self-centered passion, or another. Now you know – that’s the happy existence you wanted to go back to. Ignorance and blindness.” (Mr. Stimson, Act III, p.109)

“We all know that something is eternal. And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars . . . everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the grandest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being.” (Stage Manager, Act III, p.87-88)

*

So that was it. Act I tells about Daily Life. Act II about Love and Marriage. And Act III about Death. All three happens to every living human being, except marriage. I was surprised when I finished reading this play. I mean, I  love The Bridge of San Luis Rey, which was a Pulitzer-winning novel from the author. So I shouldn’t be surprised if I happen to like this play, but again Mr. Wilder got me thinking and contemplating on my own life after reading his work. I’d like to say, “Mr. Wilder, you did it again!” I am really in love with the works of an author who won three Pulitzer Prizes in his life; for The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927, fiction), Our Town (1938, play/drama), and The Skin of Our Teeth (1942, play/drama). I’m so glad that this play is the very first book I read in 2013 and I will be reading The Skin of Our Teeth for LRP event next July.

Our Town was short, simple, familiar. But it moves me in a way that I know I should read this play over and over again. When life gets too hectic and I need to “stop” for a while. I don’t want to be blind; I want to see the beauty of things, the beauty of every moment. That way I can give thanks to the Lord every minute of every day.

3rd review for Let’s Read Plays event| 19th review for The Classics Club Project| 1st review for Books in English Reading Challenge 2013

#bacabareng BBI bulan Januari 2013 tema pemenang Pulitzer

Book details:

Our Town, by Thornton Wilder
103 pages e-book (first published 1938)
My rating : ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Twelfth Night – William Shakespeare

12thTwelfth Night, or What You Will, a Shakespeare comedy, was written around 1601-1602 for the Twelfth Night celebration, and was first published on 1623. The plot of the play was derived from the short story “Of Apollonius and Silla” by Barnabe Rich, based on a story by Matteo Bandello. Twelfth Night tells us about Viola, who was cast ashore after her ship was wrecked in a storm, stranded in the land of Illyria. With help from the captain of the ship, she then disguised herself as a young male servant, using the name Cesario, and served Orsino, the Duke of Illyria. When Orsino was madly in love with Lady Olivia, a noblewoman in mourning of her lately deceased brother, he asked Viola to tell Olivia about his feelings for her. Viola (as Cesario) acted as matchmaker for Orsino and Olivia, while she found herself falling in love with Orsino. Olivia, on the other hand, somehow touched by Cesario’s speech of Orsino’s love and fell in love instantly with the young man.

VIOLA

I am the man. If it be so, as ’tis,
Poor lady, she were better love a dream.
Disguise, I see thou art a wickedness,
Wherein the pregnant enemy does much.
How easy is it for the proper false
In women’s waxen hearts to set their forms!
Alas, our frailty is the cause, not we,
For such as we are made of, such we be.
How will this fadge? My master loves her dearly,
And I, poor monster, fond as much on him,
And she, mistaken, seems to dote on me.
What will become of this? As I am man,
My state is desperate for my master’s love.
As I am woman, now, alas the day,
What thriftless sighs shall poor Olivia breathe!
O time, thou must untangle this, not I.
It is too hard a knot for me to untie!

Besides the three main characters, there are also many interesting supporting characters such as Sir Toby Belch, Olivia’s uncle and a drunk; the idiot Sir Andrew Aguecheek who tried to woo Olivia; Maria the smart servant of Olivia; and the goody two-shoes butler Malvolio. Maria then came up with an idea to humiliate Malvolio, made him think that Lady Olivia is in love with him. Sir Toby and Sir Andrew were witnesses of her trickery to Malvolio. Also there was Feste or The Fool, who was instead being a fool or a clown, turned out to say a lot of wisdom. Here is my favorite dialogue of Feste (with Lady Olivia):

FOOL
Good madonna, why mournest thou?

OLIVIA
Good fool, for my brother’s death.

FOOL
I think his soul is in hell, madonna.

OLIVIA
I know his soul is in heaven, fool.

FOOL
The more fool, madonna, to mourn for your brother’s soul being in heaven. Take away the fool, gentlemen.

On the final act, other characters meet Sebastian, Viola’s twin brother (whom Viola thought was dead), and mistook him for Cesario. Lady Olivia would once again confess her love for him, and this time she wouldn’t be disappointed. Sebastian then engaged in a fight with Sir Andrew and Sir Toby, while Olivia confessed to Orsino that she is married to Cesario. How would Viola clean up this mess?

Twelfth Night Renders by Steorra Moonstar (source)

Twelfth Night Renders by Steorra Moonstar (source)

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Oh, I’m so relieved that this month I get to read Shakespeare comedy. I picked Twelfth Night as one Shakespeare comedy to read for Let’s Read Plays event because some years ago I watched a modern adaptation of the play, a teen movie called She’s The Man (with Amanda Bynes as Viola and Channing Tatum as Orsino). What can I say, I enjoyed Twelfth Night and I laughed a lot. I simply enjoyed it as a comedy and ignored the gender issues people say this play brought on purpose. Four stars for this play and I can’t wait to read more Shakespeare comedies!

P.S. : Okay I admit it. I did this on purpose, publishing the Twelfth Night review on 12-12-12. There’s no specific purpose, I just happened to finish reading it on early December, and Twelfth Night itself is the eve of Epiphany, on the fifth or sixth of January. I also wrote down notes for every act in Twelfth Night. You can read it here.

2nd review for Let’s Read Plays event

16th review for The Classics Club Project

Book details:

Twelfth Night, or What You Will, by William Shakespeare
149 pages e-book, published by Feedbooks
[Download e-book from Feedbooks HERE]
Read with help from No Fear Shakespeare
My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Julius Caesar – William Shakespeare

Julius Caesar was my very first attempt to read Shakespeare. Even though it was relatively short, I had a hard time reading this mainly because it was written in old English language. (Thanks to No Fear Shakespeare that I can conquer this!) The play was divided into 5 acts. The story of the Roman dictator Julius Caesar, revolves in Roman history, politics, conspiracy, betrayal, Caesar’s assassination, and a bitter end for everyone involved in the conspiracy. Well, it was a tragedy. Julius Caesar was going to be crowned as king of Rome when some people who disliked him gathered in conspiracy to overthrow him. The conspirators feared if Caesar became king, he would be a tyrant. The one who started conspiracy against Caesar was Cassius, and he dragged Brutus, a noble man who was once a close and faithful friend to Caesar.

“Beware of the ides of March.”

The play has interesting twists, especially when slippery Cassius tricked Brutus and turned him against Caesar, and also dragged a whole gang of conspirators with him (Casca, Trebonius, Ligarius, Decius Brutus, Metellus Cimber, and Cinna). Then there were Brutus’ struggles between his own conscience, patriotism to Rome, honor, and friendship. Even though the play was titled with Julius Caesar’s name, the main character of the play was Brutus. I loved Brutus’ relationship with his wife, Portia, and hated that Brutus did not choose her above anything else and left Portia die in vain.

Within the bond of marriage, tell me, Brutus,

Is it excepted I should know no secrets

That appertain to you? Am I yourself

But, as it were, in sort or limitation,

To keep with you at meals, comfort your bed,

And talk to you sometimes?

Dwell I but in the suburbs

Of your good pleasure? If it be no more,

Portia is Brutus’ harlot, not his wife.

The Assassination of Julius Caesar at the Ides of March

And then there was the scene where Caesar was assassinated, somewhere in Act 3. (See the image above) This was where he uttered the famous line Et tu, Brute?” (“And you, Brutus?”) to Brutus who stabbed him the last. After the assassination, Brutus gave a speech that this (the murder of Caesar) was done for the sake of Romans. The crowd agreed with him. Then Brutus did the worst mistake he could have ever done, letting Marc Antony take the pulpit and give a speech. Antony, with the power of kind words, changed the public opinion about Caesar and turned the crowd against the conspirators.  Antony’s speech was my favorite part of the whole play:

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest—
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men—
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

What happened then? Sorry, I just have to say it. Everybody dies. Because that is what a tragedy is all about. Well, almost everybody, of course Marc Antony didn’t die in this play. Reading a play is a new experience for me, and even though my very first try wasn’t a very pleasing one, I won’t give up on plays just yet. Overall, I liked Julius Caesar for its twists, psychological struggles of the characters, and of course the morals. But I don’t think that tragedy is my thing.  I just don’t like to see people kill each other (or themselves). (Maybe I should start with Romeo and Juliet, in which there was fewer characters that died???) Next month I will be reading Twelfth Night, a Shakespeare comedy, which is a huge relief. I really hope I can enjoy his comedies better. Three stars for Julius Caesar.

1st review for Let’s Read Plays event

15th review for The Classics Club Project

Book details:

Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare
142 pages e-book, published by Feedbooks. (first published on 1599)
[Download e-book from Feedbooks HERE]
My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥